Zimbabwe Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022
Basic data
Capital Harare
Population 15.30 million
Language official language English, indigenous languages
Religion Christianity (88%), no religion (10%), other (2%)
State system presidential republic
Head of State Emmerson Mnangagwa
Head of government Emmerson Mnangagwa
Currency name Zimbabwe dollar (ZWL)
Travel
Time shift +1 hour (in summer +0 hour)
Economy 2021
Nominal GDP (billion USD) 0.7
Economic growth (%) 4.1
Inflation (%) 139.2
Unemployment (%) ON

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in the Southern African region. It is a unitary republic practicing a presidential system of power with the existence of multiple political parties. But in reality, power is concentrated in the hands of a narrow group around the president. The political regime is highly authoritarian, with complicated relations with democratic countries and international organizations.

Zimbabwe, once one of the richest countries in Africa, today de facto belongs to the group of least developed countries in the world (but the government rejects this classification). The poor economic policies of the government after 2000 deeply shook the country’s economic base. A number of industries have practically disappeared (automobile production) or are going through a deep crisis. The country’s economy depends to a large extent on agriculture and mining of mineral resources (gold, platinum, diamonds, nickel, chrome, copper, asbestos, etc.). Zimbabwe faces many problems – high dependence on climatic conditions, lack of finance (including cash), neglected infrastructure, including energy, unfavorable investment and business climate, corruption or inefficient state administration. The rate of inflation has been very high again in recent years, although it managed to decrease significantly in the course of 2021. The economy operates largely on the basis of the US dollar, with a black market flourishing. Outages in the supply of electricity, fuel, medicines and other consumer goods are common. Trade and economic cooperation with the Czech Republic is minimal and entering the local market is complicated, however, potential business opportunities can be seen especially in the supply of technologies and equipment for the mining industry, agriculture, energy, but also a wide range of consumer goods. Visit Allunitconverters for more information about Zimbabwe culture and traditions.

This Summary Territorial Information is processed for a country that is so-called accredited. The information is provided in an abbreviated form.

Culture of business dealings

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public holidays

Introduction

Zimbabwean society is still quite traditional in many ways. Central Europeans are often unpleasantly surprised especially by lateness, non-compliance with deadlines and promises in general or difficult dealings with the authorities. There is a high level of corruption to be reckoned with.

Addressing

The style of personal communication is somewhat more formal compared to Central European customs. There is more emphasis on politeness. When meeting in person, it is customary to say hello to everyone, or introduce yourself The standard greeting is a handshake. He is usually addressed by his surname rather than his first name – “Mr./Mrs. X”, it is advisable to address them by any academic title or position held (e.g. director, deputy, etc.). A usual part of the greeting is a polite “How are you?” etc. with an appropriate response. It is also considered polite to ask about the health of your partner and his family. In general, small talk is a common part of conversation. It is customary to exchange classic paper business cards with your partner.

Business meeting

When planning a business meeting, the widespread tardiness must be taken into account. Negotiations are often postponed, even at the last minute. This applies doubly when dealing with representatives of state institutions. When planning the start time and length of the meeting, it is usually necessary to allow for a generous time reserve. In this regard, persons of European origin tend to be significantly more disciplined, with a strong Anglo-Saxon style of behavior. The surviving British influence is still felt in customs and manners in general.

Meetings often take place over lunch or dinner in a restaurant, but it is just as well possible to meet in the office. Inviting a business partner to your home is possible until establishing a more intimate personal relationship unusual. Giving gifts is not necessarily expected, but it is usually pleasing and can help establish a closer relationship. It is not usual to offer alcohol at the first meeting; Zimbabwe is a relatively conservative Christian country, with members of some churches abstaining from alcohol consumption. In the countryside, the traditional division of social roles persists, i.e. a significantly higher representation of men in business and official positions. In the cities, however, these traditional differences are already blurring. In general, respect is shown to older people.

The relatively formal and conservative style is also applied in dressing. Gentlemen should come to the first meeting in a suit and tie (light materials are recommended due to the climate), appropriate formal attire is also recommended for women. However, the atmosphere during negotiations is often less formal than in many European countries. Closer physical contact (hugging, etc.) is not usual, the perceived extent of the personal zone is nevertheless smaller than what we are used to in the Czech Republic.

Communication

The official language of the country is English, with which you can communicate practically anywhere in the usual business environment. Establishing a deeper business relationship is usually a longer-term affair, with (usually repeated) face-to-face interaction almost necessary. It is possible to use all common means of communication for negotiations, but quite often it is possible to encounter the fact that the partner does not respond to emails. Telephone communication is usually more effective. A very popular one (and usually the most reliable in terms of a partner’s response) is WhatsApp.

Recommendation

It should be taken into account that corruption is widespread in the country. Zimbabwe ranked 157th out of 183 countries in the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

When dealing with the authorities, one must expect lengthy, confusing and often chaotic processes and absences, or by not following standardized procedures. In general, when dealing with local partners, it is better to refrain from criticizing the political system or the functioning of state institutions.

Politeness and trying not to disappoint the partner often leads to the fact that local partners do not say “no” outright, when it comes to their ability or possibility to get something, arrange it, etc. Promises should be taken with a considerable amount of caution and rather with lower expectations. Agreed time frames are very often not respected at all.

Public Holidays

  • January 1 – New Year’s day
  • February 21 – Robert Mugabe National Youth Day
  • Good Friday, Easter Monday (moving)
  • April 18 – Independence Day (Independence Day – official national holiday of the country)
  • May 1 – Worker’s Day
  • May 25 – Africa Day
  • Second Monday in August – Heroes’ Day
  • second Tuesday in August – Defense Forces Day
  • December 22 – National Unity Day
  • December 25 – Christmas Day (1st Christmas Day)
  • December 26 – Boxing Day (2nd Boxing Day)

Other holidays may be declared personally by the President of the Republic as additional days off. If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday is off.

Zimbabwe Culture of Business